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Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis

September 25, 2016
OFFSIDE REMARKS
What if the Red Bulls had closed out those games in which they gave away points, where would they be?


Bradley Wright-Phillips and the Red Bulls would be sitting prettier had the team not squandered so many two-goal leads.
Bradley Wright-Phillips and the Red Bulls would be sitting prettier had the team not squandered so many two-goal leads.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
By Michael Lewis
BigAppleSoccer.com Editor

Let's play a little what if?

As well as the Red Bulls have performed recently, they could be leading the Eastern Conference by a considerable amount and in the driverís seat to secure home-field advantage for all conference playoff matches had they closed out five games.

You know which ones, matches in which the Red Bulls enjoyed a two-goal lead at some juncture left valuable points on the table.

That would be five games since July 17.

After Saturday's 1-0 playoff-clinching win over the Montreal Impact, I spoke briefly with Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch outside the locker room about his team's remarkable accomplishment of overcoming that awful 1-6 start to the season. Not many people gave his team much of a chance reaching the post-season, let alone being in the running for the Eastern Conference lead. The Red Bulls are in first place, ahead of Toronto FC and New York City FC by goal differential.

We also talked about the team's inability to hold those leads and wondered if the Red Bulls hadn't given up those two-goal leads, what the team's record would be. I told him that it wouldn't be fair to assume for the team to close out all five matches.

So, I decided to play around with the numbers to see what might have been had the team not dropped all those points.

First of all, go to one extreme and let's say the Red Bulls held onto the lead in all five games. They would be comfortably atop the Eastern Conference with an 18-9-4 record and 58 points and enjoying a five-point lead over FC Dallas (53) in the Supporters Shield race. That would be 10 points clear of New York City FC (48) and 12 of Toronto FC (46), which would have lost two points because last week's 3-3 draw with the Red Bulls would have counted as a defeat.

The standings would look like this:

* Red Bulls (18-8-4, 58 points)

* New York City FC (13-9-9, 48)

* Toronto FC (13-9-7, 46)

Now, let's get much more realistic. Let's assume the Red Bulls won only two of those five games.

This what is those standings would look like:

* Red Bulls (15-9-8, 53)

* New York City FC (13-9-9, 48)

* Toronto FC (13-9-7, 46)

The Red Bulls would be tied with Dallas for the Supporters Shield lead.

NYC FC and the Red Bulls have three games remaining in the regular season. Toronto has a game in hand.

The Red Bulls would be tied with Dallas for the Supporters Shield lead.

Still, a big difference from what things really are, any way you would look at it.

But back to reality.

If they fail to secure first place in the East, the Red Bulls know they will have no one but to blame themselves.

Whether this impacts them in the playoffs in terms of home-field advantage, especially if they reach MLS Cup, it remains to be seen.
 
 
 
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